First made in 16th century Venice and later found in Florence, milk glass (also known as opal glass) was intended to simulate porcelain. The opaque white color is achieved through the addition of an opacifier such as tin dioxide (SaO2) or bone ash during the liquid state of a glass object’s production.

During the Gilded Age (1877 – 1900) intricate and delicate Milk Glass pieces were manufactured for wealthy collectors, often these pieces were hand painted or trimmed with rich colors. Later, during the Depression Era (1930s – 1940s) simpler and more affordable pieces were created, with the “hob nail” pattern becoming one of the most popular decorative patterns lasting through the modern age and into today’s contemporary collections.

Milk Glass can be found in a variety of objects, ranging from large serving platters to small delicate jewelry. Platters and plates are often found with pressed intricate designs or portraits in the center with elaborate scalloped or laced edging. Smaller pieces can range from simple service-ware to highly decorative candlesticks, vases, and jars, many of which are pressed into the shapes of animals and portraits. Milk Glass is still sought after today and can be found in a variety of collections from museums to private households.


Ceramic Pot Lids were mainly produced during the mid Victorian Era (c.1840), tapering off in the following Edwardian Era (c.1901-10) as product packaging evolved and improved. Small ceramic jars with decorative lids were manufactured and distributed by many merchants and contained a variety of goods. Often the lid would display the merchant name, the product type and directions for use and would include a decorative design to appeal to the consumer.

The Victorian consumer was interested in the finer foods such as anchovy paste and shrimp — these lids would have nautical imagery or scenes from the shore displayed. Also available in ceramic jars were a wide variety of health and beauty items such as toothpaste and cold crémes. These jars would be decorated to show the product’s flavor or to appeal to a person’s vanity.

Ceramic pots often found a second life, when they were emptied they were then reused to store household items such as pins or buttons. Some pots were even kept for their ornamental value and found home amongst the popular decorative clutter in many Victorian homes. Still other pots found their way into landfills and today, the collector-digger will conduct careful research to locate Victorian and Edwardian era dumps, or “tips,” and carefully sift through to find these small and highly collectible decorated lids.